A/N: Have you ever had the experience of reading a fic and getting and idea for a fic of your own that has absolutely NOTHING to do with the fic you are actually reading except the mood? That happens to me a lot. And it isn't even the fic itself that inspires you, just it's mood or tone? So you end up stopping reading to go write down the idea before you forget it? Yeah. That's what happened with this.

Short oneshot. Directly after the end of KH2. Sokai. Enjoy.

. . .b a n d a i d . e f f e c t. . .

Let me fix what is b r o k e n

He takes the gentle hand she reaches out to him without hesitation, and then it's all just standing there and really staring at her for the first time since their reunion. No worries, no nagging feeling that he really hasn't got time for this; nothing but friends and water and sand and the sounds of the sea. Kairi stands there and looks at him, a smile that says a thousand things at once: relief, joy, disbelief and something sad he can't quite place; a thousand things she could never bring herself to say. And looking into her eyes he can see why.

Looking into her eyes now he can see just how broken a soul she'd been containing. He had been asleep most of the last year; she had been the one having to live through every painful, lonely day. Get up, go to school, come home, do homework, go to bed.

He'd at least had the benefit of knowledge. He had known where she was for the most of it; he'd known she was here and safe; she hadn't known at all where he was; or even who he was, for so much of it. And who could she have talked to? Who would have believed her? She mentioned that everyone else forgot. And he'd missed it at the time, but there was so much pain in that simple wording: everyone else. But not her. And that would have left her more alone than ever.

She had spent her year wondering and worrying and wishing and worrying some more, and Sora looks at her and for the first time starts to comprehend what that must have done to her nerves. She's been broken by it, he sees. A heart so desperately stretched to its limits for such a length of time that something in her had snapped.

And he sees now just how desperately she must have clung to hope, because she sure hadn't had anything else to cling to.

No one or nothing physical had been there for her to hold on to, not even the comprehending shoulder of a friend.

He looks into her eyes and he sees the joy swimming out of the sorrow, and the desire to throw her arms around him and never, ever let go being suffocated and held at bay, and he wonders how she can do that until he remembers that it's Kairi, and that's what she does. She holds back for his sake; because when all the universe is in danger the last thing she wants is for all the world to fall because she needs a hug; and he realizes the biggest mistake he's made since they've been reunited is to not simply hold still and let her cling to him like a rag doll in a storm, because when he thinks about it, that's kind of what she's spent her last year being. And he realizes that she may be more clingy than necessary for a while, but under the circumstances, it's kind of justifiable. It's the closest thing to compensation she'll ever get. All she needs is reassurance; she needs to hear one person telling her she isn't crazy.

So he reaches out and wraps his arms around her as tightly as he can manage, and he resolves not to let her go until Kairi herself gets so sick of him that she pushes him away. He decides he will be her bandaid, and just hold her long enough for all the broken pieces of her heart to heal back together.

Hestitantly, slowly, he feels her slender arms wrap around him, and her small, childlike hands grip the material of his shirt as she simply clings to him. And she's started crying now, because he can feel her hot, wet tears against his neck, and hear the whimpers gaining volume from around his shoulder. And the whimpers become sobs, and now she's full out crying; Sora's not sure if they're tears of joy or sorrow or hope or desperation, but he has a feeling it's all four and more besides.

He'll hold her, then. For as long as it takes to fix her. Until the tears are nothing but joy, or maybe until they've stopped altogether. And maybe for good measure he'll just hold her some more, just in case. Because no one ever really takes the bandaid off until long after the wound has healed.

fini